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Monday, January 31, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

The weather people are warning us of an impending storm of historic proportions. The storm is to start in the overnight hours tonight. The winter storm warning has been issued for a 48-hour period, taking us into Wednesday night. The experts are not able to be specific about how much of the precipitation will be in the form of snow and how much in the form of ice...the more ice, the less snow, you see. But strong winds and arctic temperatures are to accompany the storm. So things are looking grim for the next few days in our area.

However, this is the sight that greeted us this morning.


I made a trip to the grocery store early this morning (thus, the sunrise picture above). Then Doug and I went out later to run some other errands in preparation for a snow emergency. We think we're as prepared as we can be.

One of the advantages of being retired is that we don't even have to think about whether we're going to be able to make it to work when a "snow storm of historic proportions" strikes. If it weren't for the trouble that such a storm causes for others, as well as for wildlife, it could actually be enjoyable to just hunker down in our comfortable house and watch it blow itself out.
 

Wishing warmth and safety to all of you.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blaney Camp 9

Several years ago, in August of 1990, to be exact, Doug and I were wrapping up a vacation in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. On the day we started for home, we came upon the Seney National Wildlife Refuge and decided to spend some time there. As a result, we didn't get far that day.

By the time we left the Wildlife Refuge, the hour was getting late; and we had no idea where we were going to spend the night. The nearest town of any size was about 45 minutes to an hour in the opposite direction of where we wanted to go.

We were approaching the intersection where we would have to make the decision about whether to continue towards home and possibly have to drive hours before we found a motel or to turn in the other direction and, hopefully, find something within an hour or so.

Just then, we saw a sign that said "Blaney Camp 9," advertising nightly rates of $35. Even 20 years ago, that was a pretty attractive rate. 

We decided it wouldn't hurt anything to at least stop and look at the place.

The "office" was actually the home of the proprietor. The "rooms" were separate little cottages. As we learned later, this had been the site of an old lumber camp. The man who now owned it had turned it into a bed and breakfast of sorts. I think he was sizing us up as much as we were sizing him up during our initial meeting. We must have passed his inspection, though, because he took us to a unit to let us see it.

We were charmed.

The cottage was tiny, but immaculate. The furnishings included a very inviting queen bed, a chest of drawers, a comfortable chair, and a television.

The bathroom, though also tiny, was equipped with all the usual necessities. In short, it was perfect. It looked like a little honeymoon cottage; and, as it happened, that night just happened to be our third wedding anniversary. We couldn't have found a more charming place in which to spend it.

We marveled, as we often do, at God's gracious provision.


Our host can be seen here, making his breakfast deliveries.

The next morning, our host delivered to our cottage door muffins fresh out of the oven, freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, and a copy of the Detroit newspaper. (Thus earning the "bed and breakfast" designation of his little enterprise.)

For several years afterward, our host sent us a Christmas newsletter, as if we were old friends. Then, eventually, the newsletters stopped coming.



Five years ago, 15 years to the day after our first visit and during another anniversary trip to the Upper Peninsula, we drove by Blaney Camp 9 to see how it was faring. Sadly, it appeared abandoned and neglected.


It was disheartening to see the place in such a state of neglect, but we will always remember fondly the charming place it was when we stumbled onto it the night of our third anniversary.
 
I wonder what has become of our host of that day. I hope he's happy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Restaurant Faux Pas

Haven't we all done stupid and embarrassing things at restaurants? Come on...haven't we? Don't leave me hanging here. I can't be the only one.

Haven't we all picked up a ketchup bottle and given it a good shake (because nobody likes that watery stuff that comes out first if the bottle isn't properly shaken), only to send the cap (that another party at our table thoughtfully loosened but UNthoughtfully failed to mention) flying over to a neighboring table, surprising that table's occupant and narrowly missing his coffee cup?
 
I thought so.
 
My friend, Rich, told me about an incident he had experienced.
 
He was a widower and so, on occasion, found himself eating alone at a fast food restaurant. On this particular day, he was visiting "the Colonel" for a chicken dinner. He was seated in a booth behind two older ladies that were facing each other. The one with her back to Rich had light yellow, extra fluffy hair.
 
As I'm sure you realize, chicken can be a tricky thing to eat. As Rich was using his fork to tear his chicken off the bone, a piece of the chicken suddenly broke loose and catapulted directly into the back of the head of the lady whose back was to Rich, landing smack dab in the center of the light yellow, extra fluffy hair.
 
Not knowing what else to do, Rich continued eating his chicken dinner, hoping that the lady with the chicken in her hair wouldn't realize it. Apparently, she didn't, because she and her friend continued talking and laughing together as they enjoyed their meals.
 
Rich didn't waste any time finishing his meal and getting out of there. But he said he's often wondered what that lady thought when she got home and found that piece of chicken in her hair.
 
I just hope she wasn't one of those ladies who get their hair done once a week and don't touch it in between visits to the stylist.

Brandi

After the death of my first doberman pinscher, Samantha, I wasn't so sure that I wanted another dog. But, as some of you will understand, it wasn't long before I found myself looking for another doberman.

It was a time when dobermans were not enjoying great popularity, often being bred as vicious attack dogs. So, to be on the safe side, I contacted a veterinarian friend and asked if he could recommend a breeder who bred dobermans for the desirable traits of a family pet. Through the contacts he gave me, I located a family who had a six-month-old black-and-tan female for sale.
 
I went to see her and was immediately smitten. She was already house broken and crate trained, and she quickly bonded with me to the extent that she was almost a pest.

One day, shortly after Brandi came to live with me in my house trailer on my dad's farm, I was taking a shower, when I heard Brandi barking ferociously. Heart beating anxiously, I quickly threw on a robe and went to see what impending disaster was causing the ruckus. Instead of finding Brandi at the door, fighting off an intruder, as I half expected, I found her on my bed, hackles raised, barking at her reflection in a mirror.
 

Brandi would often come and put her front legs on my lap when I was sitting at the kitchen table. From that position, she could see her reflection in the mirror over the couch in the living room. The wall on which the mirror hung separated the living room from the spare bedroom. Brandi apparently thought she was looking through a window into the bedroom because, seeing her reflection, she would begin barking and run to that bedroom in attack mode. Then, satisfied that she had driven the intruder away, she would return to me, jump up to put her front feet in my lap; and the whole process would begin all over again.
 
When I would put on my makeup in the bathroom, no matter where Brandi was in the house, she would come dashing to the bathroom, barking. I soon realized that it was always when I was applying eyebrow pencil that this happened. Apparently, there was some slight noise associated with the application of the eyebrow pencil that irritated Brandi's sensitive ears and set her to barking. So I decided to use that to teach her to "speak."

I would give her the command to speak and then begin to apply the eyebrow pencil. When she barked, I praised her. That was the easiest thing I ever taught her.

One time, when she wanted to go out in the middle of the night, Brandi came and stood next to my bed, right by my face, and gave a single loud bark. Well, let me tell you...after that, we BOTH had to go potty. I woke with such a start that I scolded her for barking at me. From then on, if she needed to go out during the night, she would come and rest her chin on the bed, inches from my face, and just stare at me. It always worked...maybe not as quickly as the bark, but certainly with less trauma for both of us.

My dad lived next door to me, and I would usually stop in to see him for a few minutes before going out to the barn to check on things there. Brandi usually stayed outside while I was at Dad's, but she would position herself where she could see us through the kitchen window. When she saw me moving, her body would tense with anticipation. By the time I opened the door to go out, she was on her feet and ready to run. She knew that my habit was to go to the barn after visiting Dad, so she would be off to the barn like a bullet as soon as I came out of the house. If, instead, I headed back to my house trailer, that bullet would change directions in a flash and quickly overtake me.

Baths. Oh, she hated baths. I always took showers; so, when Brandi heard sounds of the tub filling, she knew it was for her. While I was preparing the tub, she would go to her crate, where, when all was ready, I would find her curled up into a tight ball, pretending to be sound asleep.

When Brandi and I moved from the house trailer on Dad's farm into a house in town, the floors in the house weren't carpeted. There was some ceramic tile and some terrazzo flooring, both of which were a little chilly on a doberman's bottom. One time, when I had been talking on the kitchen telephone for a long time (that was when telephones were anchored to walls), Brandi went to the bedroom to get her blanket and brought it out to the kitchen, where she placed it on the floor next to me, so that she could be near me but still be comfortable.
 

Brandi and I had fun playing hide and seek, too. Well, I did anyway. It was a bit of a one-sided game. I would throw a toy into another room, then run and hide while she went to retrieve it. She would be so distressed when she returned with the toy and couldn't find me. If her search went unrewarded for too long, she would just sit down and whine until I gave up and revealed my hiding place.

Brandi was the last dog I've had. Sometimes I find myself looking through the online pictures of dogs at the local rescue shelters, remembering the joy that a dog or a cat can add to a home. But, so far, I've not taken the plunge again. A pet is a lot of expense and responsibility and, as I mentioned in the post about Samantha, a lot of heartache when the day of parting comes.

But someday, maybe...

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Back Yard...Again

We awoke to more snow this morning. It's starting to taper off now, but I'd say we received a couple of inches of new snow. Here are a few pictures from the back yard. (Sorry, but it's about the only place I get to for photo ops in the winter.)

This swing is much more inviting in the warmer months, both because of the temperature difference and because the shrubs behind it create more privacy when they have leaves on them.

I had to shoot his little guy's picture through the window this morning, so the image isn't as sharp as it could be. At least, the window is what I choose to blame.




I do enjoy the beauty of winter, but I'm looking forward to the beauty of spring.
 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

Here are a couple of sunrise images, taken about six years ago with my first digital camera, a little point-and-shoot model made by Hewlett Packard.



These have not been Photoshopped, for two reasons: (1) I don't know how to use Photoshop; and (2) How could I presume to improve on what God has already done so well?

May you have a blessed Sunday.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. (Psalms 19:1)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nursery Duty

I mentioned in my last post about my inexperience with children, so you might see the irony in my being asked to serve as a nursery worker at the church we used to attend in another city about 30 miles away. After they assured me that there would always be another nursery worker in there with me, I agreed.

I must have had a temporary memory lapse about another time I served in a church nursery, when an 18-month-old little girl cried so hard that she wet all over me. And I don't mean with tears.

Anyway, things were going along pretty well for my periodic nursery assignments. My co-laborers seemed always willing to do the dirty work (if you know what I mean), and my duties pretty much consisted of keeping the little ones from hurting themselves or each other. (We had some very active children in the nursery. It seemed like 50 or so; but it was, in reality, only about a half-dozen.)

We had one little boy who was usually pretty quiet. He would sit and watch the goings on of the others, as if mesmerized, but rarely participated in the action. One day, he came over and stood beside my chair, not saying a word, just standing there.

I said, "J, do you want me to get you a toy?"

J shook his head no.

"Do you want to sit on my lap?"

Another head shake.

"Do you want a cracker?"

I thought I was onto something with that one, but J again shook his head.

"Do you have to go to the bathroom?"

Bingo! A nod in the affirmative.

"Do you need help?"

Another nod.

Oh dear. Don't show fear. They sense fear, you know.

It's not necessary to get specific about this experience. Suffice it to say that there was more involved than just pointing the child at the toilet. My co-laborer that day was a 15-year-old girl who, fortunately, knew much more about taking care of children than I did. With her counsel, J and I managed to get the bathroom emergency handled, if not efficiently, at least adequately.

Later, when I told his mother that J had initiated me into a new experience, she had a good laugh and told me that J was perfectly capable of going potty all by himself and never asks for help at home.

The little turkey.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fun Photo

In going through some old photographs tonight, searching for inspiration for a blog post, I came across a photo that made me laugh out loud; and I thought I'd see if it had the same effect on anyone else.

First, let me remind you that Doug and I don't have children. Aside from some babysitting experience when I was a teenager, and some involvement with my niece and nephews during their growing-up years, neither Doug nor I have been around young children enough to interact easily with them.

Well, Sandra and her Hubby have always been generous about sharing their own family with us. In December of 1999, they invited us to come over while their daughter Jenny was home for a Christmas visit, with her two daughters, two-year-old CoCo and newborn LuLu. 

Someone had the idea of getting a picture of Doug and me with the little ones.


Can you look at this picture and not laugh?

Fortunately, a second attempt turned out a little better.


But that first one is more true to life.



Friday, January 14, 2011

Samantha

I have always loved dogs, from the time I was very small. I was bitten more than once by stray dogs that I would try to befriend. Mom kept a bottle of peroxide on hand to disinfect my injuries, not all of which were dog related, as I was very tomboyish and managed to find multiple ways of hurting myself.

We didn't get a dog of our own until we moved to the only barn in the county with a bathroom in the hayloft, when I was about five. She was a mixed-breed from the local animal shelter, loved by (almost) all who knew her. She met an untimely demise when a couple of older neighbor boys took her hunting in our woods and accidentally shot her. The wound itself wasn't serious, but the boys took her to the veterinarian who lived next door; and we believe the vet, who was possibly the one person who didn't like our dog, deliberately administered a lethal dose of anesthetic.

My dad enjoyed hunting, so subsequent dogs were always beagles, until years later when, as an adult, I bought Heather.

I worked with a guy who one day mentioned that he had a young adult female doberman pinscher that needed a good home. I had Heather and didn't need another dog, but we had friends who had recently moved out in the country and were interested in getting a large dog for protection. I got the friends together with the guy at work, and our friends became the happy owners of a red doberman named Samantha.

They adored their new family member, and Samantha adored them. One day, the wife had slipped and fallen and broken her leg when she went out to the mailbox. When help arrived, Samantha was guarding her mistress and had to be restrained before the rescuers could do their job.

Well, a few years later, due to a change in employment, Samantha's family had to move from their house in the country to another city and a home that wouldn't be suitable for Samantha. They asked me if I would take her and give her a home on my parents' 20-acre farm, where I lived in my house trailer on a rented lot.

Heather had long since become my father's dog; and I had long been interested in having a doberman, so I agreed, although I did it with some trepidation. This was during a time when dobermans were not enjoying a particularly good reputation. They were reputed to be one-person dogs and dogs who might unpredictably go into attack mode, and I was about to become the third owner of a mature animal.

The first night that Samantha spent with me, I placed a beanbag chair in my bedroom for her to use as a bed. Then, still a little nervous about having a doberman sharing my house, I settled down to go to sleep.

In the middle of the night, I awoke with a start, hearing my new roommate snarling viciously. Certain that I was about to be attacked, I slowly reached my hand up to the light switch next to my bed and turned on the light. There was my vicious doberman, sound asleep in her beanbag bed, lips curled back in a snarl, and legs twitching, as she chased some evil phantom in her dreams.

Samantha turned out to be a wonderful companion. She had apparently never played with toys as a pup and never showed any real interest in them. Her main "toy" was the occasional rawhide bone that I would give her. She would carry that around like a toddler carries a security blanket. If someone knocked on the door, Samantha would run to grab her bone before going to the door with me. Obviously, she wasn't a barker because it was hard to bark with that bone in her mouth.
 
One time, I was scolding her for something; and she sat down in front of me, looking sheepish, and curled her lips back from her teeth. Her body language showed that the lip curl was not a snarl. I believe she was giving me a sheepish smile.

Another time, we were roughhousing in the close confines of the house trailer living room, and we bumped heads. It didn't seem to hurt Sam, but I had to go to the emergency room for stitches. Every time a different medical professional would enter the treatment room, I would have to explain again that I had bumped heads with my dog; and, no, she had not bitten me.
 

Of course, the inevitable day came when my faithful friend died. I had been away on vacation, and Dad had been taking care of Sam. As soon as I saw her, after returning from my vacation, I saw that her condition had deteriorated. Over the next two or three weeks, she continued her decline. She became destructive in the house, including shredding her beanbag bed. Then she began to have difficulty managing the steps to go outside. One Sunday, I came home from church to find Sam unable to stand. I called the vet, who agreed to meet me at the clinic. Then I had to call my dad to come and help me lift Sam into the car.

The vet had to euthanize Sam that day. He later performed a necropsy, for which he didn't charge me. He did it because he had a personal interest in what had caused Sam's death. The results showed that Sam's liver was non-functioning and was scarred as if with cirrhosis. The vet wasn't able to tell me why, but he did reassure me that there was nothing I could have done.

Pets enrich our lives in so many ways. They give so much love and work their way into our hearts deeper than we ever would have thought possible. But they rarely outlive us. And so the price we pay for the joy of knowing them is the heartbreak of losing them. It's a high price. But it's worth it.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Neighbors

Doug's been under the weather since Christmas, with sinus infection and congestion. The cold air aggravates his condition, so he has been trying to avoid going out and wraps his face in a scarf if going out can't be avoided.

We received about five inches of snow yesterday. Doug was in no shape to clean the driveway, and I've never operated our snow blower and really didn't want to experiment with it. After all, five inches isn't so much that we can't drive through it.

But one of our Good Neighbors came to the rescue. We looked out this afternoon and saw him cleaning our driveway with a blade on his ATV.

Doug called him a little later and thanked him. Then Doug and I both wrapped up and went outside to clear the snow away from the garage door and to clean the walkway to our front door. We had barely gotten started when our Good Neighbor arrived with his own shovel, with the same purpose in mind. So Doug went back inside while Good Neighbor and I quickly finished the job.

When you buy a house, you never know what you're going to get in the way of neighbors. Even if you were to check them out before making the deal on the house, there's nothing to say that they won't sell to someone else and move away.

God has blessed us with good neighbors. We don't really socialize with them, but any one of them would gladly come running if we called with a need. That's a nice feeling.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow...and a bit of color

Finally, we're getting a decent snow. It's only three or four inches, but it's the best we've had so far this winter.
 
This is a little area of shrubs around an outdoor light in our front yard. The bush on the right is an azalea that absolutely glows in the springtime. The bush on the left provides a sheltered hiding place for a rabbit. He wasn't home when I took this picture, though.
 

This little thorny bush is to the right of the rabbit's hideaway. I was surprised to find a little bit of color hiding in its depths. Color is so lacking in a snowy landscape that it's a treat to come across even a little of it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Treasures, Part 3

Here are some more items from my mother's old jewelry box.

I came across this necklace about a year ago and realized how pretty it was. I know I'd seen it before, but its charm was lost on me until recently. The picture doesn't show too much of the chain, but it's unusual enough to add to the charm of the necklace.



This is another necklace that I find interesting because of its old-fashioned look. The filigree work is on a translucent material that is probably some sort of plastic that has a kind of sunburst look to it. The stone in the center may or may not be a tiny diamond. My main reason for thinking it might be real is that it's so tiny. It seems that, if it were a rhinestone, they would have used a gaudier one. The butterfly-shaped filigree piece on the chain is a sort of gold color, rather than the white of the pendant and chain. I'm not sure whether that was intentional or whether it has tarnished with age.



This necklace has a lovely green stone in a white filigree setting. It has some filigree work on the chain that is similar to the previous photo, but it is white on this necklace. There are also some little pearls and imitation stones enhancing the chain.

This cameo necklace has always been a favorite of mine. I love the chain, the little dangly things under the pendant, the cameo itself, and its setting. I could probably do without the rhinestones at the four corners, but they don't keep me from enjoying this piece.
 

This is an old locket which has always held a fascination for me because of the elaborate detail on its face.

I hope I haven't bored everyone to death with these trinkets from my past. But, if I have, you can relax now. I think I've pretty well exhausted my supply.
 

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Few Snowy Photos

When we first moved into this house, almost 22 years ago now, there were only six trees on the property...three each on two sides of the lot. On one side were three soft maples; on the other side were two soft maples and an oak.

Doug had been living on ten wooded acres before we married. I had been living in a house trailer on my parents' 20-acre farm, with no close neighbors. Then, after moving from the farm, I had lived in a housing development; but there was a privacy fence around a back yard that had lots of trees.

Doug and I felt the lack of privacy when we bought this house, which was surrounded by other homes. Initially, we wanted to put in a privacy fence; but we have a corner lot, and there were regulations restricting the placement of the fence in relation to the road which ran beside the property. There were no restrictions, however, on where we planted trees and shrubs. So, instead of a privacy fence, we planted a variety of trees and shrubs around the perimeter of the back yard. And we're so glad we did. Our yard is like a park...so much nicer than a privacy fence made of boards.

We haven't had too much snow yet this winter, following a summer of not much rain. That causes us some concern for the trees in our back yard, which provide privacy for us and food and habitat for birds, squirrels, and rabbits.

It snowed an inch or so yesterday and gave me an opportunity to get a few snowy photos of the yard.

This is one corner of the back yard. The bare tree on the right-hand edge of the photo is the only tree in the picture that was on the property when we bought it. The evergreens are not nearly as bushy as they were before our dry summer. We're hoping they'll bounce back with winter snows and spring rains.



We're not sure what this fruit is, but it provides winter sustenance for birds and squirrels, which, in turn, provide entertainment for us.
 



Thursday, January 06, 2011

Treasures, Part 2

These are a few more of the treasures from my mother's little red cardboard jewelry box.

This may have been her mother's wedding band. It's 14K gold, and the design covers all but about a half-inch of the outer ring, leaving a space for engraving. But nothing is engraved, leaving some doubt as to whose ring it actually is.

This is my mother's wedding set. The stones look larger in this picture than they really are. In fact, until I saw this photograph, I hadn't realized that a stone was missing from the larger ring. You can see the empty hole on the right-hand side of the ring. At the time that my parents married, there couldn't have been much money to spend on the rings, but I've always admired this wedding set. The rings are designed in a way that enhances the stones and shows them in their best light.

I don't know whose ring this cameo was. I don't think I ever saw my mom wear it, so it may have belonged to an aunt who died when I was about nine. It's also 14K gold and was one of the many items that stirred my interest and imagination as it languished in Mom's jewelry box when I was young.

This is my mother's birthstone ring. Information inside the ring includes the letters "OB," the 14K designation, and what looks like a sort of cross. The "OB" identifies the ring's manufacturer as Otsby and Barton. Interestingly, Otsby was a passenger on the Titanic and died when that ship sank on her maiden voyage in 1912. I'm not sure what the cross symbol might mean. It might be an indicator of the date of production, but I couldn't find any information about that.

I always thought that this ring was my grandmother's birthstone ring, partly because the size was larger than my mom's rings. But Grandma's birthday was in October, and the October birthstone is an opal, not a garnet or a ruby. So, again, I have an object that I don't know a lot about. And again, the photograph reveals a blemish that I didn't know existed until I saw it in the picture. You can see that there's a chip out of the stone. If there is any information inside the ring, I'm not able to make it out with a regular magnifying glass. The gold is dull and tarnished looking, so it may not be of a very high quality.

This is one that I don't have a clue about. It's a sterling silver filigree ring with what is most likely a genuine diamond chip. It's quite tarnished but would probably be very pretty if professionally polished. I know nothing of its history.

On another note...the hand model really should get a manicure.

I saw my niece, Beckie, today; and she was asking why she'd never heard of these "treasures" before and said she was waiting with anticipation for the next installment. So, Beckie, this post is for you.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Possibly the best use of beer bottles ever...

A friend sent this video to me awhile back, and I thought you all might enjoy seeing it, if you haven't already. It features the St. Luke's Bottle Band, of St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, Illinois, offering their rendition of "Peacherine Rag." Enjoy!




Thanks to Hilary at The Smitten Image for including this post as a Post of the Week.

POTW-celery[1]

Monday, January 03, 2011

Treasures, Part 1

My father worked in a machine shop when my brother, Phil, and I were little. Well, actually, he worked there his entire working life. But this post is about when Phil and I were little.

Apparently, there was occasionally some spare time in the machine shop, because Dad made things for his children. There was a bracelet for me:


And there was a ring for each of us:


I would guess that my dad probably shouldn't have been doing these sorts of things while at work, unless he was able to do them during breaks and using scrap metal which would have been thrown out anyway. But I've always found it touching that he was thinking of his family and that he crafted these little items himself.

Of course, by the time I became aware of these baby things, I had already outgrown them. But there they were in my mom's little red cardboard jewelry box, keeping The Watch company, and piquing the interest of one little Linda Sue.

A relatively small selection of treasures from that jewelry box still survives, and most of those that I've kept have little monetary value. But, still...they are treasures nonetheless.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Watch

When I was growing up, there were treasures in my mother's dresser...treasures I was allowed to look at but not to touch. Most of them were kept in a little six-drawer (three on each side) box made of sturdy red cardboard. That's where Mom kept her jewelry and a few keepsakes.

Obviously, a cardboard jewelry box wasn't likely to contain anything but costume jewelry, but there was one item in that box that occupied my thoughts more than any other. That was a gold pocket watch.

If I ever heard the story of the pocket watch, I've long since forgotten it; and there is no one left from that generation who could now shed light on it. Engraved on one of the covers inside the watch are the initials "M E." I can't think of anyone in my mom's family with those initials. Mom's father was a railroader, and these watches were often carried by railroaders; but those aren't his initials.

Anyway, when my mother died, the watch passed to me.

This is the front of the watch. A push on the winding knob on the top flips this cover open to reveal the watch face.

This is the back of the watch. The design on the back is slightly different from that on the front.

The watch face. (Please excuse the dust.)


This is the inside of the back cover, showing the serial number and logo of the case's manufacturer. There is other information on there, too, that looks as if it was scratched on by hand. But it's hard to make out, and I have no idea what it means.

After opening the cover that has the initials on it, you find the case's serial number repeated, as well as the name of the case's manufacturer and his guarantee. This is on the flip side of the initials.

This is the watch's movement, appearing just opposite the case manufacturer's guarantee. The name of the manufacturer and the watch's serial number (different from the case's manufacturer and serial number) are imprinted on the movement.

Now, can you see why this watch held such fascination for me as a little girl? It really hasn't lost any of its fascination as I've gotten older, either.

As I was preparing this post, I looked up the Hampden Watch Company in Canton, Ohio. It appears, according to the serial number of the watch, that it was manufactured in 1908. It's still in good working order, with no damages except for some scratches. I haven't observed it enough to know if it keeps accurate time, though.

My dad once bought me a chain for the watch, so that I could wear it as a pendant; but I just never felt comfortable doing that. So it remains in my jewelry box, where I pick it up and admire it from time to time and wonder what stories it could tell if it could talk. I'll probably never know.
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